Venezuela to withdraw from regional human rights court

President Chavez (second from left) attends a ceremony to mark Navy Day in Puerto Cabello on 24 May President Chavez accuses the court of interfering in Venezuela's affairs

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President Hugo Chavez says Venezuela will no longer recognise the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, after a ruling he called a travesty of justice.

The Costa Rica-based court ruled that Venezuela had violated the rights of prisoner Raul Diaz by holding him in "inhumane" jail conditions.

Diaz was convicted of bombing diplomatic offices in Caracas in 2003.

In May, Mr Chavez threatened to pull Venezuela from another body, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The court and commission are autonomous bodies of the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Mr Chavez has long accused the OAS of being a US pawn used to interfere in domestic court disputes and undermine leftist governments.

'Out of dignity'

Speaking on Tuesday, President Chavez said the court had again "trampled over Venezuela, trampled over international law".

He said he had instructed Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro not to wait any longer and to begin steps to remove Venezuela from the court.

"Venezuela is pulling out of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights out of dignity," Mr Chavez said during a military ceremony in the town of Puerto Cabello.

By ruling in favour of Diaz, the tribunal had sided with "terrorism", he said.

Diaz was convicted of participating in the 2003 bombings of the Spanish Embassy and Colombian consulate in Caracas that injured four people.

He was sentenced to more than nine years in prison, but fled the country in 2010 and sought asylum in the United States.

He denies any involvement in the attacks and has accused Venezuelan authorities of violating his rights in the case.

Venezuelan human rights activists have warned that if the government withdraws from the OAS bodies, victims of rights abuses would have fewer venues in which to raise their cases.

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